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I’m a huge fan of the television drama, The Good Wife, staring the lovely Julianna Marguiles. Marguiles plays Alicia Florrick, who in midlife is sideswiped by her husband’s imprisonment on political corruption charges. In the opening episode, she stands beside her husband while he speaks to the media about his moral and legal failures in a scene that has played out on our own television screens so many times before. What I love about this show is that its focus isn’t the political scandal (although that does figure prominently in the first few episodes), but the day-to-day life of a woman who is attempting to create an emotionally stable, financially secure life for herself and her children.
An abundance of “good wife” books exist—novels that explore the many roles women play throughout their lives. These are books that examine personal choices, feminism, love, marriage, work, and parenthood in a critical, realistic and often humorous way. While, the main characters of these books tend to be female, the themes are universal—what makes life meaningful, how do we survive personal tragedy, how do we develop as an individual and remain loyal to our families? Here are some of my favorite “good wife” books (annotations from NoveList). What are yours?
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
Baring her soul in an anonymous survey for a marital happiness study, Alice catalogues her stale marriage, unsatisfying job and unfavorable prospects and begins to question virtually every aspect of her life.
To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
Judith Whitman, in a marriage hazy with secrets, considers getting in touch with the love of her life from twenty years ago.
The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller
Two unconventional women, neighbors in adjacent New England townhouses--Meri Fowler, pregnant, newly married, and discovering the gap between reality and expectation, and Delia Naughton, wife of a notoriously unfaithful liberal senator--confront the costs and challenges of love.
I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson
Kate Reddy, a hedge fund manager and mother of two, struggles to juggle her professional and personal lives and to balance--often unsuccessfully--on the tightrope of work and home.
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
On the eve of her husband's receipt of a prestigious literary award, Joan Castleman, who has put her own writing ambitions on hold to support her husband, evaluates her choices and decides to end the marriage.